William and Mary Law School

Annual Supreme Court Preview Brings Renowned Legal Luminaries to William & Mary Law School

  • Supreme Court Preview Moot Court
    Supreme Court Preview Moot Court
    The Institute of Bill of Rights Law kicked off its 24th annual Supreme Court Preview with a moot court on Sept. 23.
    Chris Lewis
The Institute of Bill of Rights Law held its 24th annual Supreme Court Preview on September 23-24, bringing noted scholars, journalists, advocates and justices to William & Mary Law School to discuss the issues and cases currently facing the nation’s highest court.

Professor Neal Devins, director of the Institute of Bill of Rights Law, recruited several of his William & Mary colleagues to participate in the annual events, including Dean Davison M. Douglas and fellow law professors Tara Grove, Allison Orr Larsen, William Van Alstyne and Timothy Zick. Faculty members from Stanford and Yale and the University of California at Irvine also participated, as did journalists from organizations including The New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and Slate.

“It’s always good to see familiar faces,” said Linda Greenhouse, who has attended the preview since the 1980s. Greenhouse is currently a professor at Yale Law School after her Pulitzer Prize-winning career with The New York Times. “But the new participants also bring a fresh perspective,” she added.

Devins agreed. “The advocates, judges, and reporters who attend the Preview really enjoy spending time with each other,” he said. “Everyone wants to come back so we always have a great blend of familiar faces as well as new panelists.”

The weekend’s program began Friday evening with a moot court on U.S. v. Jones, an upcoming case involving GPS tracking and its constitutionality under the Fourth Amendment.  Stanford law professor Jeffrey Fisher represented the government in the case, with Andrew Pincus of Mayer Brown advocating for the defendant. Though the moot court found 6-3 in favor of the government’s position regarding tracking, Chief Justice Joan Biskupic of USA Today stressed that the result was based on the moot court’s interpretation of the law and “not necessarily how we think the Supreme Court will vote on this case.”

Following the moot court, Biskupic moderated a panel regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Panelists included Stanford Law School’s Pam Karlan and former Solicitors General Paul Clement and Walter Dellinger. Clement is representing 26 states that have challenged the constitutionality of the law; Dellinger has testified before Congress in support of the law.

Friday’s events concluded with a panel on the current status and future of gay rights in the federal courts. Moderated by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, Dellinger was joined by Paul Smith of Jenner & Block and the Honorable J. Harvie Wilkinson of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Though the panelists agreed that the Supreme Court will likely soon hear a case regarding gay marriage, Judge Wilkinson expressed dismay that the issue was being dealt with in the courts rather than through the legislative process.

“The pendulum swings both ways on the ‘constitutionalization’ of same-sex marriage,” said Wilkinson. “Legal action has led to states banning same-sex marriage in their constitutions, an action I spoke against in Virginia.”

Saturday’s events included panels discussing upcoming Supreme Court cases regarding business law, criminal law, the First Amendment, and federalism. There were also retrospectives on the impact of the September 11th attacks on the court and on Justice Elena Kagan’s first year on the Supreme Court. Other sessions involved discussion on “Race and the Court”, which discussed affirmative action and voting rights, and “The Court, Religion and Public Life.”

Other distinguished participants in the 2011 Preview included:

  Robert Barnes, The Washington Post
  Joan Biskupic, USA Today
  Lisa Blatt, Arnold & Porter
  Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal
  Beth Brinkmann, U.S. Department of Justice
  Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, University of California, Irvine School of Law
  Paul Clement, Bancroft
  Walter Dellinger, O'Melveny & Myers
  Lyle Denniston, SCOTUS Blog
  Davison Douglas, Dean, William & Mary Law School
  Jeffrey Fisher, Stanford Law School
  Thomas C. Goldstein, Goldstein, Howe & Russell
  Linda Greenhouse, Yale Law School
  Tara Grove, William & Mary Law School
  Pam Karlan, Stanford Law School
  Allison Orr Larsen, William & Mary Law School
  Adam Liptak, The New York Times
  Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
  Andrew Pincus, Mayer Brown
  David Savage, The Los Angeles Times
  Paul Smith, Jenner & Block
  William Van Alstyne, William & Mary Law School
  Hon. J. Harvie Wilkinson, US Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
  Timothy Zick, William & Mary Law School